Snap decisions – The dangers of copying photographs

Published, 4 years ago

Did you know that using a photograph found on a social networking site could leave you open to a claim for copyright infringement?

Copyright arises automatically in a variety of works including photographs. Copyright provides owners with a way to control how their work is used and prevents unauthorised use. These principles still apply even if a photograph has been uploaded to the internet and/or the owner of the photograph is not readily apparent. If you copy a photograph which you find on the internet, you could be infringing copyright. Generally the person who has taken the photograph owns the copyright (unless that person assigns the copyright to someone else or they are employed to take the photograph, in which case it is their employer who owns the copyright).

These principles have been recently illustrated in the case of Sheldon v Daybrook House Promotions Ltd [2013] EWPCC 26. In this case, a club owner found a photograph of Ke$ha and LMFAO on tumblr and genuinely believed that it was allowed to use the picture, given that it was posted on a social networking site and it was available for all to see. The club owner therefore used the photograph on promotional flyers and posters. The photographer who had taken the original picture saw the promotional material and sued for copyright infringement.

The court held that the club owner had to pay the photographer £5,682.37 (exclusive of VAT and interest), and that the level of damages that had to be paid in such cases is that which the copyright owner would earn in terms of a reasonable royalty for the reproduction of the particular photographic work in dispute. In the Sheldon case, the fact that Ke$ha and LMFAO are well known and current acts, and the fact that the photograph had been taken on a tour bus to which only an exclusive number of people had access, enhanced the value of the photograph and accordingly the royalty payable.

Not all uses of a photograph will necessarily infringe copyright. For instance, photographs can be used for illustrative purposes in criticism and review or for certain non-commercial educational purposes without incurring liability (if the photo is properly acknowledged). However, most commercial uses will infringe copyright and, if a copyright owner discovers use of a photograph, an action can be brought to stop that use and for compensation in the sum of a reasonable royalty or an account of any profits made from the use of the photograph.

The safest course of action is to obtain the copyright owner’s permission before using any picture found on the internet. If the photograph is on the internet it may not be apparent who the copyright owner is, and so it may be useful to contact the website owner or social network account holder to request further details. It is important to keep in mind that the website owner/account holder is not necessarily the copyright owner, and it is only a copyright owner (or their authorised representative), who can give permission to use a copyright work.

If you would like advice about copyright, or any other IP related issues, please contact the IP and Media team at Pannone.

Liked what you read? Share the article!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pocket
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin

Get Noticed with Fashion Rider.

Get the recognition you deserve. Portfolio, Jobs, Social Media promotion and much more. All in one membership. 

You might also like

Fashion and the end of the Brexit transition period

19th October 2020 Fashion and the end of the Brexit transition period – points to consider as we approach 31 December 2020 With less than …

Read More

How Freelancers Can Thrive With a Strong Digital Presence

Freelancer? Working from home or for yourself? In need of a gentle reminder? Whatever your business and whatever your industry; a strong digital presence has …

Read More

How To Grow Your Social Media

In most industries social media is used on a daily basis, particularly in the fashion industry. Making your posts gain traction and high quality leads …

Read More

Things to consider in a Fashion Marketing Strategy

Having a marketing strategy that is consistent and is relevant to your customer base is so important when trying to grow a business. You need …

Read More

Fashion Advice: Funding for Fashion Professionals

Launching a business can be a scary yet exciting time.  You have your business plan and strategy set, and you have a clear vision as …

Read More

Fashion Industry Awareness

Whether you are just starting or have been working in the fashion industry for a while, you already know that watching out for the latest …

Read More

Top 8 Fashion Tips for Working Women Who Want To Break That Glass Ceiling

As a woman trying to make it in the cutthroat competitive working environment that is the corporate world, you have your work cut out for …

Read More

Fashion Professionals: Do you know your taxes?

Running your own business, big or small, involves taking care of your tax returns.  Knowing your taxes and in particular small business taxes are vital. …

Read More

Fashion Professionals: Are you using the right accounting software for your business?

Accounting and indeed accounting software can be a minefield if you’re not doing it day in and day out. Accounting isn’t always everyone’s strong point …

Read More

Subscribe to our newsletter today!

FASHIONSUPPORTSUCCESS

Promoting our members throughout the industry, providing exciting job opportunities and supporting them with increased visibility and valuable advice to ensure their journey is a long and successful one.

Fashion Rider
First Floor, Swan Buildings, 20 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JW

Subscribe to our newsletter today!

© 2020 Fashion Rider UK

We use cookies to offer you a better experience and analyze site traffic. By continuing, you consent to the use of the cookies following our privacy policy. You may choose to opt-out through our privacy policy page.